Kilmarnock Drug Team takes action to save lives
Helping ordinary people in the community is something that Serco's business teams excel at. Working with the Ayrshire and Arran Alcohol and Drug Action Team (ADAT), the Serco team at HMP Kilmarnock has played a significant part in saving ex-prisoners' lives in Ayrshire by stemming the worrying rise in post-release drug-related deaths.
Drug misuse is a major concern in Scotland, and there has been a high incidence of drug-related deaths among ex-prisoners following release from a short-term sentence. Once in custody, prisoners lose access to their valuable drug prevention and support programmes that are available in the community. As a result, they often have to wait for a significant period of time once released before they can rejoin support programmes.
The Addictions Team has developed a wide range of interventions to support prisoners, and care plans are in place for all prisoners identified with addiction problems. This includes a plan for their care after release, to help reduce drug-related overdoses due to low tolerance levels.
"One of the first areas we targeted was care for prisoners after their release," says Maria McLaren, head of Kilmarnock's Visits and Addictions Team, "Many ex-prisoners return to drug use once they are back in the community and overdoses do occur. We felt we had to do something about it."
The team has also developed a project in partnership with the Lighthouse Foundation, a local charity supporting families and children who have a loved one with an addiction problem. External funding has been sourced to run this project through the Scottish Executive and Charitable Trusts. The project is a family support programme that helps prisoners' families with a drop-in clinic, basic drug awareness sessions, overdose prevention training and a training programme and 28-day drug support programme for prisoners.
The project has recently been awarded a Butler Trust Award and a Serco Chairman's Award. John McClure, Assistant Director - Resettlement, who initiated the project, has recently been voted onto the Lighthouse Foundation's board of directors. This further reinforces the already solid links the Addictions Team has with the local community.
Since the start of the initiative, the prison has gained external funding for two addictions nurses and two alcohol caseworkers, who now help prisoners right up to and after their release. The group has already achieved significant success. In 2002, seven prisoners died within 14 days of being released due to drug overdoses. Since the formation of the Drug Death Action Group at HMP Kilmarnock, no post-release deaths were recorded in 2003 and 2004.